Parenting time arrangements are critical in families’ lives after divorce or separation. They give parents and children a sense of stability and predictability, which can be crucial after a parental split. However, things can and do change after some time. Kids get older, parents change jobs and families move.
Because of this, parents should understand the process for changing existing parenting time arrangements.
When can we make changes?
For the courts to change an existing order, you must prove that a material change has occurred and, therefore, a change in your order is necessary. Some of the most common examples of material changes include the following:
- Parental relocation to a different province or country
- Significant changes in a child’s medical, physical or emotional needs
- Parental incarceration
- Incidences of family violence
- Declines in parenting capabilities
- Changes in a child’s preferences
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of material changes in circumstances. However, it reflects the fact that courts generally won’t order a modification when a change is not significant.
If you are seeking modification of your parenting time agreement, be prepared to show how a change materially affects parental abilities and/or your child’s needs.
How do we change it?
If you and your child’s other parent agree to change your current agreement, you can work with each other to put your changes in writing.
However, if you cannot agree, you must take the matter to court for consideration and ruling. It is important to understand that even if you agree, the courts will need to review it and sign off on it.
Whether you and your ex agree to changes or you must go to court, legal guidance and support can be essential. This can be a complex process, and missteps could create complications and disruptions. However, understanding how parenting time modifications work and what you must do can help you get the outcome you are looking for.